Camp in comfort near the beach in Rockaway – or just bring a tent and rough it.
The new Camp Rockaway pilot project at Fort Tilden is giving people a chance to enjoy the great outdoors while sleeping in a queen-sized bed with linen sheets on a raised wood platform.
But founder Kent Johnson said he didn’t want to offer just another “glamping” experience. So people also have the option to share space in a herder tent or reserve a patch of land and pitch their own tent.
“Glamping can tend to seem exclusive and we want to be anything but that,” said Johnson, an architect who has spent three years working on the Camp Rockaway project. “We are able to accommodate all sorts of people.”
The National Park Service has partnered with Camp Rockaway and allowed it to use part of Fort Tilden from Sept. 23 through Nov. 6.
Johnson, who has surfed in Rockaway for years, said he was inspired by stories of beach camping during the peninsula’s heyday as a vacation spot at the beginning of the 20th century.
“Tents were set up overnight on the beach right on the sand,” he said. “It was probably a really cool experience.”
He set up a kickstarter campaign in 2014 and was encouraged by the response from the public. But finding the right place to do it was a challenge.
“I pitched this plan to every agency you can imagine in New York City government,” Johnson said.
He finally reached an agreement to use Fort Tilden, a federally run site, which has easy access to the beach as well sports fields and places to hike and bike.
“We want to be able to make this in keeping with the mission of the National Park Service to get people outdoors and exploring and ultimately being stewards of the environment,” he said.
Prices range from $195 a night for a lux canvas wall tent with bed side tables, lights, pillows and cell phone charging station to $115 for a herder tent that can accommodate four people with cots, pillows and side tables. But you have to bring your own towels and sheets.
People with their own or rented tents can secure a spot on the campsite for $65.
Johnson said supporters of the kickstarter campaign who pledged donations for a night’s stay will finally get a chance to test it out.
“This is a dream come true to finally make good on a promise to people who were excited about this three years ago,” he said. “They hung in there.”